''American Pie 2'' isn't so much a second slice as it is a reheated piece of the original. It tastes just as good, though if you've tried it before, you know what it's like.
It's the funniest movie of the summer, though -- a perfect summer movie, in fact, because it is so raunchy and yet so lovable.
Brothers Chris and Paul Weitz, who produced and directed the 1999 original, had a huge hit with screenwriter Adam Herz, so why not cash in again?
The whole gang is back from the first movie, which ended with high school graduation. Now, the characters have finished their freshman year in college and are together for the summer at a Michigan lake house (actually shot at a Southern California beach, but who's gonna notice?).
They're a little older, but they haven't changed much. Goofy Jim (Jason Biggs) still pines for sexy foreign-exchange student Nadia (Shannon Elizabeth). Oz (Chris Klein), the good-natured jock, is still dating wholesome choir girl Heather (Mena Suvari), who's spending the summer in Europe. Intellectual Finch (Eddie Kaye Thomas) continues to obsess over Stifler's mom, his Mrs. Robinson conquest from the original. Their leader, Kevin (Thomas Ian Nicholas), and perky blonde Vicky (Tara Reid) have broken up, but they're learning to be friends.
And then there's Stifler (Seann William Scott), who has only changed by becoming more obnoxious. College, with its copious keg parties and willing women, has amplified his worst qualities, but that's why he's so much fun to watch. As in the original, he gets all the best lines -- none of which are repeatable here, of course.
Vicky, Heather, Kevin and Oz are mere afterthoughts in the sequel, and that's fine, because the other characters are more interesting anyway. This time, it's all about Jim getting ready for his long-awaited reunion with Nadia by practicing with Michelle (Alyson Hannigan, whose role has been wonderfully expanded), his band-geek dominatrix prom date. And it's all about Stifler tormenting everyone around him, including two sexy young women he's convinced are lesbians.
You need to have seen the first ''American Pie'' to get many of the references -- to Jim's Internet sexcapades, to Stifler's mom, to the twisted things that happened ''one time, at band camp.''
But there are enough daringly funny moments for the uninitiated. And while the direction from J.B. Rogers (''Say it Isn't So'') is erratic at times, most people in the audience won't notice because they'll be laughing too hard.
As funny as it is, ''American Pie 2'' is yet another unfortunate example of a movie wasting its best jokes on the TV commercials. So when Jim glues himself to ... er ... himself, it's funny, but not as surprisingly, laugh-out-loud hilarious as it could have been because you already know the punch line.
The actors are so unabashedly willing to make fools of themselves for a laugh, though, that it's endearing.
And the characters are so well drawn that even when they say something potentially corny and feel-good, you don't cringe because you care about them.
The movie's fun and funny; it's mindless, but it has a heart. Have a seat and dig in.
''American Pie 2,'' a Universal Pictures release, is rated R for countless reasons, including strong sexual content, crude humor, language and drinking. Running time: 104 minutes.
Motion Picture Association of America rating definitions:
G -- General audiences. All ages admitted.
PG -- Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
PG-13 -- Special parental guidance strongly suggested for children under 13. Some material may be inappropriate for young children.
R -- Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
NC-17 -- No one under 17 admitted.
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